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The warehouse owner didn’t think he needed to ask for a cash deposit from the NFL when the league asked to rent his venue during the annual NFL Scouting Combine. However he received a rude awakening in January when the NFL notified him that his event space, located in downtown Indianapolis across the street from the convention center and down the block from Lucas Oil Stadium, was no longer needed by the league and wouldn’t be paid for. (An NFL spokesman said the league merely looked into using the venue, and no contract was involved.)
The owner, who asked for anonymity to discuss private discussions with the NFL and Visit Indy—Indianapolis’s travel bureau—called up a friend who just happened to work for a website that has been a thorn in the side of the league of late. Would former Colts punter Pat McAfee and his Barstool Sports crew like to use the monstrous floor space for the week? Of course they would.
McAfee set up shop in the warehouse with Dan Katz (Big Cat), PFT Commenter and other Barstool cohorts and hosted the Barstool Sports Journalism Combine, in which reporters from traditional media outlets like NBC Sports, NFL Network and Sports Illustrated (yes, I participated, and won) sat through an interrogation by Katz and PFT Commenter and competed in a timed course with obstacles. The course tasks included pulling a single diet coke can out of a large cooler full of sodas, drinking cold coffee from a Styrofoam cup and asking a mock interview question to McAfee, who was standing atop a podium. The catch? The question had to start with Youth Indianapolis Colts Pat McAfee Nike Royal Blue Team Color Game Jersey two words that have become a crutch for pro football journos in press conference scenarios: “Talk about…”
How do we know Marquette King has made the leap from faceless punter to legit NFL name brand?
Well, this tweet sums up the transformation rather nicely:
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Raiders’ Marquette King might be the first punter to do the weekly media conference call. He opened the call by saying, “The King is here”
HOT TAKE: King was sending a message by serving as the representative to speak to the Indianapolis media ahead of Saturday’s matchup between the Colts and Raiders. FURTHER SUBTEXT: All season, King has crept upon the turf of Colts punter Pat McAfee, who entered this season as the NFL’s unquestionable leader in CPP (charisma per punt). DEEP BACKGROUND: McAfee even took exception with this writer (um, that’s me) after I wrote earlier this season that King was “making punters great — not again — but for the first time.”
I like to think that McAfee’s tweet revealed that King was on his radar. Consider Saturday’s showdown between the Colts and Raiders as the big stage for a royal rumble of punter personality. Two men enter the field, only one could walk away with the title of, um, COOLEST PUNTER. That’ll work as a placeholder.
And now, just for fun, let’s shine a light on each man’s greatest hits. First, as dancers: